Noak Hill residents angry after police ‘destroy’ their homes in firearms raids
PUBLISHED: 17:15 08 February 2019 | UPDATED: 17:22 08 February 2019
Noak Hill residents are furious after police ‘destroyed’ their homes in a raid as officers were hunting for guns and drugs.
Those that live on the site said officers smashed windows and doors in the raids and still haven’t replaced them or boarded them up.
At around 3.30am on Wednesday (February 6) armed police raided the homes of residents at a caravan park in Benskins Lane, and residents have told of their fear as they were handcuffed and their homes were turned upside down.
As part of the raids on sites in both Harold Hill and Noak Hill, 16 people were arrested, and so far two have been charged with possession with intent to supply cannabis, However those that live on the site - made up of around eight caravans - said no-one was arrested from their site.
The Met states that where officers have entered premises by force it is required to ensure the premises are secure when officers leave.
This can either be by ensuring that the owner is present or that emergency boarding up of the premises has taken place.
Emergency boarding up is carried out by another company (Boing Rapid Secure Ltd) on behalf of the Met, and although police must ensure premises are secure they are not liable for the cost of boarding up in all circumstances.
However in this case the residents have had to do the boarding up themselves, and are facing another night without front doors on some of their properties.
Emma Forrester, 33, said she saw the officers in all black outfits with guns outside her home, and shouted at them before they burst through her front door.
She told the Recorder: “One of them asked me ‘What travelling community are you from?’ and I said I wasn’t and then they said ‘Are you Romany’ and I said no, and then they said ‘Are you sure?’
“Weirdly they might have turned our house upside down but when we came back they had made our bed and folded up our washing.”
“Just because we live in caravans doesn’t mean we’re travellers, we all pay rent, and our taxes, we shouldn’t have been treat like this” were the thoughts of Nicola Stratford, 31, who is 33 weeks pregnant and was handcuffed and had to stay in a hotel overnight with her partner Les Smith, 55, while fingertip searches were carried out by officers.
She added: “It’s completely out of order, none of us have done anything wrong, and yet we don’t have anywhere to live.
“We didn’t have a clue what was going on. They turned our cot upside down, there is glass everywhere, animals couldn’t even live in places the way our homes have been left.”Yesterday (Thursday, February 7) the residents were seeking refuge at the leisure centre in Gooshays Drive when they were told officers had left, and they could return to their homes.
When they got back they found the site completely unguarded and their front doors, sheds and windows were still smashed.
Charmaine Kinnear has contacted Havering Council and the police for support, and said officers told her they would replace the doors and windows that had been damaged.
She said: “I was terrified when it all happened, I didn’t know what was going on, and now I’ve come back to this.
“The council has been helpful, but who is going to pay to replace my front door, it’s going to cost hundreds of pounds and I don’t have the money to do it.
“We’re not criminals, we’ve not done anything wrong, we’re being held hostage in our own homes.
“How long am I going to be without electricity, I couldn’t go to work today because I wasn’t going to leave my home, anyone could have just walked in and taken whatever they liked.
“It’s just not safe to be here right now, how am I meant to sleep at night when I can’t even lock my front door.”
One family were forced to stay in their car with their dog overnight, as they had no heating or electricity.
Edyta Dziega, 21 and Radoslaw Dziega, 48, have lived in their caravan for about two years, and Radoslaw told the Recorder: “We don’t have anywhere to go.
“I haven’t been able to go to work, we can’t wash, our door is completely smashed in.
“We had £100 worth of food that we bought the day before that we have had to throw away because we don’t have any electricity.”
For more information on emergency boarding up go to the Met’s website.